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Town Of Southampton And Cornell Cooperative Of Suffolk County Collaborate On Center For Marine Education At Tiana Beach

Sydney A. Braat

The Town of Southampton in cooperation with Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County's Marine Program (CCE) unveiled its new center for marine education, restoration, and stewardship this summer. Located on Dune Road in Hampton Bays, "The Tiana Bayside Facility" will be operated by CCE's scientific professionals and educators. Individuals of all ages are invited to learn more about our local marine and coastal environment that our lives revolve around by participating in on site classes this summer season.

This year the Facility grounds will be expanded and participants of Suffolk Project in Aquaculture Training (SPAT) program will receive all the equipment and instruction needed to maintain an oyster garden at Tiana Bayside. The Tiana SPAT program coordinates their efforts with the Southampton Town Trustees who also oversee the shellfish enhancement seeding that will enable millions of oysters, clams, and scallops to be released into local waters annually.

This building was once used as a police barracks many years ago. Today, it contains a touch tank room and classroom space for a variety of marine science based programming offered by CCE through the Town Parks and Recreation Department. Outside, there will be a coastal plant nursery where a variety of native coastal plant species will be grown, including dune and marsh grass.

Solar panels have also been erected on the roof of the building which is the first on a Town facility. They will help run equipment used in raising oysters and other shellfish. One goal of the Bayside Facility is to pilot a wind energy program that could be used together with the solar program as an uninterrupted source of power to keep breeding stock and first growth alive should there be a power outage in the future. The primary goal of this Facility is to engage the public which is why there have been so many interactive aspects incorporated into the operation.

"With this initiative between the Town of Southampton and Cornell Cooperative Extension at Tiana, we are working together to increase the numbers of filter feeders in our waters, improving water quality for other species such as eelgrass, a nursery for many fish and shellfish our baymen and sportfishers depend on," said Cornell Cooperative Extension Marine Program Director Chris Pickerell.

The Bayside Facility is believed to potentially produce more than one million native hard shell clams, scallops, and oysters in a single year. "The Tiana Bayside Facility is the first of many future Town commitments to restore our water quality through aquaculture, education and community participation," said Councilman John Bouvier.

Looking in the future, the Facility is planning to offer school field trips and teach classes to the general public. "We look forward to working with the community and offering opportunities for involvement in stewardship projects and participation in our science-based educational programming," said Kimberly Barbour, CCE Marine Program Outreach Manager.

Councilman Bouvier has been instrumental in the development of the Facility. "With the stewardship of Cornell Cooperative of Suffolk County, we will improve the water quality of our bays and teach our children how they can play an active role in protecting our environment," said Supervisor Jay Schneiderman.

Tiana Bayside Facility is located at 89 Dune Road in Hampton Bays. For more information, visit ccesuffolk.org.

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